Chickens provide a great service in their home yards, happily scratching through the dirt, snacking on the bugs and worms they find. The vast majority of yard fowls' diet is chicken feed. You can jazz that up a bit by offering your chicken a wide variety of vegetables as treats.
A Healthy Diet
Your chicken may be a pet, she may be a layer, or she may end up in a pot. No matter what her job is, she needs a balanced diet, and scratching around the yard won't meet all her dietary needs. The bulk of your chicken's diet should be chicken feed, chosen with your chicken's job in mind. According to the Tractor Supply Co. website, if yours is a meat bird, she needs a higher-protein feed, containing somewhere between 20 percent and 24 percent protein, for maximum growth. If she's a laying hen, a feed that's 16 percent protein and has extra calcium will give her the nutrition she needs to provide good eggs.
A Little Extra
It's perfectly fine to give your chicken additional treats, and plenty of vegetables are suitable, so you can offer your hen a variety. Tractor Supply Co. recommends putting treats out and limiting your chickens to what they can eat in 20 minutes. The Rent A Coop website notes treats should not be more than 10 percent of a chicken's total diet. As well, treats should be fed in the afternoon, after your chickens have had ample time to eat plenty of their dietary staple throughout the day.
Eat Your Veggies
When it comes to vegetables, chickens can eat all but a few. If you have leftover carrot bits or broccoli and asparagus ends -- raw or cooked -- toss them into the yard for your hens to enjoy. They can eat a wide variety of vegetables, including leafy greens, beets, lettuce and cabbage, corn, zucchini, squash and cucumbers. If you want to feed your chicken any type of potato, bean or eggplant, you must cook it before you give it to her. If you want to liven up her diet with a little fruit, try berries, melons and stone fruits such as peaches, which may serve as a form of dessert.
Foods to Cross Off Your List
When you feed your chicken potato, take care that it has no green on it -- the solanine can be toxic to chickens. Apple seeds, and avocado pits and skins, are no-nos, as are onions, dry rice, dry beans and citrus. Chocolate, salty food, sugar and candy are bad for chickens -- they can only handle limited amounts of salt and chocolate, and sugar can be toxic and hard on their digestive tracts. Though you can feed your chickens a lot of your table scraps, remember, they're not living garbage disposals.
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